For audio version: https://youtu.be/G39OZYqPmi0
Prepare to Listen. Use these words from Psalm 22, used by Jesus, to prepare your heart to listen: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Prayerfully Read John 19:30b-37
30bThen [Jesus] bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ 37And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’
Nobody noticed that Jesus was dead. He “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” and nobody noticed! Not the Jews anxious to be rid of him, and not the soldiers guarding the cross. We don’t even know whether the few disciples, the three women and the beloved disciple, who all stood at the foot of the cross, noticed. However, we know what the beloved disciple thought when he saw the soldiers pierce Jesus’ side rather than break his legs. He finally got it. Jesus’ death was in accordance with Scripture.
The Jews were anxious to remove the bodies from the cross before the Passover sabbath. It was the most solemn and important day in the Jewish calendar. Not a day to be reminded of their heinous action against Jesus. They wanted him and his two companions in crucifixion, removed. Did they hope out of sight, out of mind would alleviate their guilt? They asked Pilate to break the crucified men’s legs to hasten their deaths. And that’s when the soldiers noticed Jesus was already dead.
Watching this, the beloved disciple made the connection to the Hebrew scriptures (Ex 12:46; Ps 34:20) about the Passover lamb being sacrificed for the redemption of Israel. He knew and believed Jesus was the Lamb sacrificed for the redemption, not of one nation, but the whole world, redeeming it from slavery to sin. He saw and testified, so that “you also may believe” that Jesus’ death fulfilled what God had spoken.
What did you see in this account of Jesus’ dead body and the beloved disciple’s testimony?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus thank you for the testimony of that one disciple who saw, really saw what your death was about. May his testimony continue to bring others to belief in you and what you did for the world that scripture might be fulfilled. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world so that others may believe too.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.